Conversations July 30, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

5:15 AM. I should start with what I realized yesterday after the morning’s entry, at 8 AM and again at noon.

[Thursday, July 29

8 AM. It explains a lot. Hemingway lived in both worlds routinely. Again, a model of wholeness. The C1 sensory everyday world he enjoyed as anyone does. The imaginal world, F27, he accessed all the time — reading, writing, remembering, visualizing. I don’t say that he knew what he was doing and why he was doing it — but he did it.

It requires an explanation of the two worlds. I thought I’d have to sit down and provide it, but it occurs to me, of course I can just ask for it. So —

Think of the physical world moving through space in its usual predictable way. There is a non-physical equivalent of the physical world that moves right along with it — “flying formation with it” as you have sometimes put it. This is at once the “space” your non-physical components reside in and the “place” your memories are stored, and your visions and imaginations are test-driven. It is a part of physical and non-physical both; it is unique in that. This is because it may be considered to be tethered to the physical on one end and to the non-physical on the other. The word “end” in this context is a metaphor, of course. Thus, approached from the physical, the realm of Focus 27 appears non-physical because of the many ways it differs from physical life. But approached from the strictly non-physical, it appears somewhat physical because so much of its underlying conditions and permutations are integrally tied to the physical, what we call Earth.

Someone living a life intensely physical and intensely imaginal is going to live stretched between the two, one might say, or at best alternating between them. It is relatively rare to find someone evenly balanced between the two, in love with the physical and non-physical alike. Much more common to see a preference for one or the other, and often enough a perception of only one, usually the physical. (Someone perceiving only the non-physical is usually confined in some way, as irresponsible for taking care of his or her body.)

Noon. It occurs to me so suddenly that it may be analysis finally catching up with experience — I have had the same pattern in one respect with my friendships that Hemingway did with his. Intensity and then drift or a sudden break.]

And, more, I share another thing with Hemingway, perhaps because a boyhood of asthma keeping me up at night accustomed me to spending my time reading, actively ignoring the physical world. I live in that imaginal world routinely. It is no different thing for me to spend much of the day reading, which I have come to think of as spending time mostly in the imaginal world. Unlike Hemingway I have never been intensely physical as well. My sensory pleasures are few and relatively unimportant. But he seems to have been balanced instinctively, not so much one foot in each world as — well, anyway, Ernest, what do you think?

You’re getting to it. The biographer who says “Hemingway pretended to be a big outdoors man but owned 7500 books” misses the point. There wasn’t any pretended about it, and there wasn’t any but, either. What good would a writer be who never read? What would he have to write about if he didn’t live? It’s a proverb, you know, that young would-be writers should stand up and live before they sit down to write. And what did I object to, my whole career, but writers — critics especially — who hadn’t done anything before writing? I don’t mean they had to be soldiers or sportsmen or any particular thing; just, they should have had something besides reading to bring to the task.

I certainly can see that! I always wanted to write — taught myself the basic elements of clear composition — had perhaps from other life-connections an innate ability and an interest in using the ability — but for the longest time I had nothing to write about, because I hadn’t so much lived as merely been dragged around by my body while I read.

Why do you suppose that so many young writers cannibalize their family and friends and neighborhoods to provide characters, and their interests (or, often enough, the “latest thing”) to provide story-line? It’s because they want to exercise the skill but don’t have the subject-matter.

Now, this is not a seminar on writing, nor on Hemingway. It is about life and the nature of life. All of this, when you put it together, will serve to provide people another way to see what it is they’re about. To do that, it must show those who are ready for it what life is about. We’ve decided you can perhaps preach the gospel, without preaching.

That’s splendid. I’ll rent a big tent, sponsor revivals.

Minus the huckster-ism, that’s exactly what we’re doing here. We are calling you — and you’re going to call anyone who responds to your words, or rather to our truths as you phrase them — to change their way of experiencing life. We want to lead them to a deeper, more fulfilling existence, closer to the wellsprings. What else does a revival ever do that’s worthwhile?

Do I get to preach hell and damnation?

If you do, you’ll do it on your own. But that “hell and damnation” approach was tailored to particular audiences in particular times with particular needs, and you needn’t scoff at what you haven’t experienced. If it lifted people out of deadness and encouraged them to live more fully, more consciously (because struggling against inertia and sin), does it matter to you that it was phrased and conceptualized in a way that does not call to you?

Well, you always have a new slant on things, don’t you? I already can feel that my friends suspect me of being Catholic yet. Now I suppose they’ll wonder if I’m also a Southern Baptist.

It is specifically to break down such mental defenses that we are working through you. Others will work on other aspects of things.

You can’t just leave it there — say more?

Is it not clear enough that one of your anchors is the matter-of-fact acceptance of the fact that the physical world is underpinned by the non-physical, and that physical life is a specific part of unending life, and that a given individual is integrally (if you will pardon a small play on words) a part of a whole? How common do you suppose those knowings are in your time and place? The ones who know the first and the second and the third of these three truths are relatively rare, and those who know any two or any one of them are likely to perceive themselves as being in opposition to those who know the others. Hence people are churched or unchurched, but not both; metaphysical or common-sense-ical or religious but not all three.

The religious won’t listen to you, and neither will the common-sense (that is, materialistic) minded. So you find yourself speaking to the metaphysicals, as you call them, continually pointing out that their view of religion is a cartoon view mostly designed (though you are too polite to say this) to assure them that they are smarter and more clear-sighted and are not on their way to hell. It makes you sound religious to them, just as your views, as expressed to your daughter’s Christian minister brother-in-law, sounded non-Christian and therefore ungrounded, to him. It is the point of view of the interlocutor that colors the message they hear.

Well, I have seen that this keeps edging toward that rather unpopular message.

What do you care about popular? You tailored your life to let you go your own way regardless of popularity. The difference between popular and unpopular is the same as the difference between being an émigré and a refugee, as the old joke has it — timing.

I don’t feel anything like adequate for the task of setting this all out, so it’s going to be up to you to leave me along. By the way, what happened to Ernest, here?

Come to think of it as a big band playing jazz. The tune carries forward partly by first one and then another soloist taking the mike, then returning to the background.

Not a bad analogy, I guess. And of course by now I am used to the underlying reality of it. So tell me, how can I best help my friends to break through their intense dislike of, distrust of, often hatred of, religious expression? Many of them can’t bear to even use the word “religious,” holding to the word “spiritual” as the only acceptable connection to that reality.

You can’t. Or, let’s put it this way, anything you or anyone can do to help somebody else is to hold up a subject in a different light, for them to accept or reject as they are able. Each individual is really a person-group with some who can hear, and some who cannot; some who will welcome your input as a valuable alliance, and others who will reject it as interference or as potentially malign. You don’t have any way to know that, and even if you did or do, you can’t be tailoring your exposition to meet any one person’s prejudice — particularly as no one regards his own prejudices as anything but truth!

What you can do is to exemplify an attitude of open-hearted acceptance of other ways of experiencing the world (including the non-sensory or non-physical worlds), because only in fluidity rather than in rejection and judgment is health to be found, and growth.

Yes, I heard the use of “exemplify” rather than, say, “exhort” or even “suggest.”

Always easier to advocate than to exemplify, but not nearly as effective.

Well, I’ll keep working on it! It doesn’t come any easier to me than it does to anybody else.

No way for you to know that.

No, all right.

So this entry has gone off in an unexpected direction, not the first time that has happened. And your hour is about up.

I don’t feel particularly tired, however. We can keep going, as far as I’m concerned.

Then let’s switch gears, and return more closely to Hemingway as example, and make just a couple of simple points.

Floating through your mind briefly yesterday was the thought of putting together a book of quotations about Hemingway, to be counterpointed by photos showing exactly the opposite, as for instance using a photo of him before all his library of books with any quotation seeing him as anti-intellectual. The idea itself isn’t worth your time, being polemical, but a book of photos of Hemingway illustrating the changes in him throughout that remarkable life would be of interest and of value. It would be a book that would be more like a slide-show.

I’d never be able to do the research necessary, much as I’d love to see the John F. Kennedy Library where Hemingway’s materials are.

You took the first step to contact Terry Mort [author of The Hemingway Patrols]. You might take the first step to see what photographic images are available, under what conditions. In an electronic age, there is no need to assume an exclusivity of access that may no longer be a limitation.

Very well, I can look into that. It would be a fascinating project, I can see it. I’d use them as nobody else would.

We would use them.

All right, but I don’t know how we would express your co-authorship! Although, come to think of it, that is part of the message, isn’t it?

Of course it is. You would use the photos to express your insights and would use the text to explain the source and potential and hazards and limitations of that form of insight.

It’s looking ever more like a setup.

You could let your friend publish this one, perhaps, to assure a wider distribution. But it could be the entry point for your work into a wider public.

It would be a fascinating project in itself. As you know, I am rereading Meyers and Mellow and Baker concurrently, gathering different points of view, as much as anything, as I do. (Also I am seeing how they accept different stories as fact, one accepting this, another accepting that, and the third disagreeing with both. Biography isn’t nearly the fact-based science it tries to be.)

It would be a fascinating project, but keep your eye on the ball. The point is not Hemingway or DeMarco but life, and living, and

Lost the thread.

Enough for the moment. We hear your thankful attitude, and you have our thanks no less.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.